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Corrina Veesart

Class of 2009, Cuesta College

On May 22, Cuesta College held its annual commencement ceremonies. One of the new graduates was Corrina Veesart, 27, of Los Osos, who had spent 9 years working towards her Associate degree in General Studies.

Nothing unusual about that—but Veesart is Deafblind, which presented a formidable challenge. As Nick Wilson noted in his San Luis Obispo Tribune writeup, she often took one class at a time to make it easier to “wade through information from lectures and grasp lessons.”

She’s able to read signs and fingerspelling a few feet in front of her face. She can read Braille and one-inch print close up, and uses a magnifier for regular text, but can read only one letter at a time that way, so it takes a long time to process information. Still, she refused to feel sorry for herself. “I just want equality and for things to be fair,” she told Wilson. “I want my experience to be the same as the next person’s.”

She had a gifted interpreter, Abby Kopp of Cuesta’s Disabled Student Programs and Services, who, for a Geology class, “created physical representations of landscapes to help her feel and understand concepts better.” They’ve known each other since high school, have worked closely together, and are friends.

Veesart has been fighting for her rights to a good education most of her life. Some of her elementary-school teachers didn’t think she was capable of learning. Her mother, Pearl, with whom Corrinna still lives, went to court twice to get her a decent public-school education. She switched schools a few times until she found one that provided appropriate support services. She graduated from San Luis Obispo High School in 2000. Outgoing and high-spirited, she enjoys writing, and, at Cuesta, took swimming, and kickboxing. She was considering teaching or becoming a physical therapist.

Wanting to keep her options open, she said she may continue to take classes at Cuesta. She’d like to live independently. But for now, she has the joy of knowing that she earned her degree. “I want education, I want to be successful, and I want to help people,” she said. “I love people.”

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